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StoryMap(ping) Black Urban Experiences: Toward an Africana DH Subfield Through Research and Pedagogy

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In thinking through the meaning of Black Digital Humanities and Africana Studies’ futurity among junior scholars and practitioners, this article presents a meditation on the intersections between Digital Humanities (DH), Africana Studies coursework, and Africana Studies pedagogy. It offers a case study wherein DH was employed in the instruction and assessment activities of an upper division hybrid (i.e., combining traditional face-to-face and online instruction) Africana Studies course at a public university in southern California during the fall semester of the 2018–2019 academic year. The purpose of this experiment was to determine how Africana Studies might go beyond a mere engagement with DH questions, theories, and tools to show how DH coursework that is distinctly “Africana” in nature may be developed more centrally as a subfield of Africana Studies itself. The overarching questions guiding this experiment include the following: What does it mean to engage DH in Africana Studies? How might we teach DH in Africana Studies within the framework of its pedagogical and methodological objectives? How does Africana DH shape both collaborative and creative learning in the classroom?

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  1. I use the terms “Black Studies” and “Africana Studies” interchangeably. Keeping with scholars who have debated the question of nomenclature in the discipline, I consider the turn to “Africana” from “Black” to be a deliberate move that recognizes the globality of Black presence and experience. This move also considers essential for the discipline of Black Studies to engage this global and variegated experience. For a detailed discussion of nomenclature and/in the discipline, see the 2009 special issue of the Journal of Black Studies Vol. 40, no.1.


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Correspondence to Sureshi M. Jayawardene.

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Jayawardene, S.M. StoryMap(ping) Black Urban Experiences: Toward an Africana DH Subfield Through Research and Pedagogy. J Afr Am St 24, 210–222 (2020).

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